One Year Later, CHIPS Act Opportunity Is Exponential

Deirdre Hanford

Aug 09, 2023 / 3 min read

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since our industry descended onto the White House lawn on a 91-degree August day feeling absolutely energized (and dare I say, electric!) about the passing of the CHIPS and Science Act in the United States.

Coalescing around the vision of the CHIPS Act with our industry’s top leaders, hearing President Biden declare to the nation that chips matter, and participating in the historic signing that launched similarly focused programs around the globe was a monumental moment for each participant and the semiconductor industry. 

The impact of the world's first CHIPS Act is undeniable. And while the US CHIPS Act can be credited with starting today’s global movement and even making the semiconductor industry dinnertime discussion (who would have thought!), the response across our industry to the CHIPS Act should be credited for progress in several key areas: strengthening collaboration, driving continuous improvement, and fostering talent.

chips and science act of 2022

Collaboration Is Our Most Advanced Tool

As I write this, our industry is at a critical inflection point to meet the compute demands of a “smart everything” world combined with very real silicon constraints on power, performance, and area. This pressure has not only forced our industry to think creatively about function and form, but it’s also required us to rethink how we make chips altogether. The resulting remarkable breakthrough in multi-die system design through the heterogeneous integration of dies, or chiplets, has recast our future and reminded us to break down our silos and think collaboratively, including in CHIPS initiatives like the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC) and the National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program (NAPMP). 

Evolving to a More Integrated Chip Lifecycle

It’s not an exaggeration to say that almost every advancement in semiconductors requires companion innovations in EDA. To this point, while design may not appear to play a role in the CHIPS grants and CHIPS R&D initiatives, nothing is further from the truth. In fact, the role of design as an enabler across the CHIPS Act tenets illustrates just how integrated the semiconductor lifecycle has become. Today, our EDA tools are integrated throughout the entire chipmaking process, from design to production to in-field.

Building a Foundation to Foster Semiconductor Talent Long-term

The growth of the semiconductor industry is undeniable, with it expected to exceed a trillion dollars by 2030 [1]. Yet, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) projects that there will be a shortfall of more than 67,000 semiconductor workers by the same year [2]. Without skilled chip designers, researchers, and fab workers, there is no semiconductor industry. Fostering talent is core to the future of our industry and the broader technology sector. 

The CHIPS Act is helping to address this by galvanizing initiatives, such as Purdue University’s Semiconductor Degrees Program, with a mission to attract, train, and launch engineers into the semiconductor field. Another example is Ohio State University’s new interdisciplinary Center for Advanced Semiconductor Fabrication Research and Education that will span 10 in-state colleges and universities. Synopsys and many in our industry are highly active on this front partnering with universities around the world, such as through our Synopsys Academic & Research Alliances (SARA) program. By providing university students and professors with access to a comprehensive curriculum, libraries, process design kits (PDKs), memory compilers, processor IP, and more, we are creating a sustainable pipeline of educated semiconductor workers who will help us meet our exponential ambitions. 

The Exponential Calls Us, Always

It is a great understatement to say that a lot has transpired in the past 12 months! Afterall, change is constant, and our industry in particular is undergoing an unprecedented evolution as we seize our destiny as a catalyst for innovation and growth across every industry globally. Never before has it been clearer to our industry, our government colleagues, and humanity at large that the design, manufacturing, and continual innovation of chips is not only wildly cool, but also a necessity to power our world and support global economies.

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